one day I was listening to a college president drone on.
that, in and of itself, is not unusual. I spend lots of time with college presidents, probably more than I would like.
he began talking about the role of a college education. “Sure, for some students it is about a job or career. But traditionally, college is really about preparing citizens.”
maybe it was because the night before I had let Starship Troopers run in the background and the discussion of the difference between citizens and civilians.
and then thinking about the traditions of college education that seemed to exclude an awful lot of non-white, non-male people
and I started thinking about the really, super privileged background from which he spoke
and I wasn’t happy. he thought he was making good, classical argument about the value of higher education.
I started thinking about Henry Gibson in the Blues Brothers.
I was laughing in sorrow. and anger. I’ve been fortunate. I am fortunate. and I know it.
not sure I would have done as well myself coming from a less-privileged background.
The long saga that began (kinda) in February is done (it actually began a year ago with the first temporary ramp, and then replaced with the huge sprawling ramp). All the bathrooms in the house are fully accessible by my wife. That’s not to say they are all wheelchair accessible as that would have been major reconstruction of the house to make the master bath wheelchair accessible. We could have taken the door to 36″ instead of a mere 32″, but since the bedroom door is only 32″ and widening it is simply not feasible, we simply made sure that any of her three walkers could get through the door. Making the first floor bath accessible meant giving up the closet in the entryway and the utility closet under the stairs. It also meant re-positioning the door to the front of the house instead of from the kitchen (which is an improvement). This bathroom is wheelchair accessible. Technically the shared bathroom upstairs is wheelchair accessible…as long as the wheelchair is already upstairs.
Remember those horrid water lines made of Flowguard Gold cpvc that would break without effort? All replaced. All throughout the house. One less thing to worry about for awhile.
The stair-lift is also installed. A day late…actually a week late. After a series of errors for which no one seemed willing to take ownership, the lift was installed the day AFTER my wife was sent home from the nursing home after two weeks of rehab and very minimal care following her first total knee replacement. Somehow she found the strength within herself to make it up the stairs to the bedroom. Of course, three weeks in hospital and nursing home can inspire a tremendous will to sleep in one’s own bed. I know this from my own experience.
But the dust is settling and her recovery from surgery continues. I still worry about making the backyard more easily accessible, but that can wait. It is simply a longish way around. That unfortunately is the nature of accessibility. Sometimes I wonder how much the ADA as it is currently written, really helps. Frequently the ramps at movie theaters and restaurants seem to be designed as an afterthought. Worse yet, they seem designed only to meet the requirement of one inch of rise per linear foot. Little thought goes into the fact that these long, gradual paths, that tend to be traversed slowly by the people they are intended to accommodate are fully exposed to the weather. Just as importantly, it is worth remembering that not all those with disabilities needing this pathways are in wheelchairs and not all wheels are large. Take a look at some of the mobility devices people are using these days, with both permanent and temporary disabilities.
Think also about your home. Is it accessible in case you or a family member has a surgery affecting mobility? Can your home be visited by anyone or only the able?
I see our home in a whole new light these days. (Truth to tell, I have also replaced most of those.) There are design choices that should never have been made. They simply represent trying to combine function with lowest cost to meet code requirements. Probably this is not a good way to build.